THE Melbourne Cabaret Festival kicks off with a gala concert at the Palais Theatre, St Kilda on June 26 offering a taste of highlights from the 12-night festival that features more than 150 performers.
Headlining the gala line-up is Motown singer Mary Wilson, founding member of The Supremes, who is performing in Stormy Weather: The Lena Horne Project at the Melbourne Recital Centre on June 28.
New York cabaret star Joey Arias will showcase his tribute to legendary jazz and blues singer Billie Holiday.
Also appearing is Tony award-winning composer and lyricist Adam Guettel, grandson of legendary American Jewish composer Richard Rodgers, who teamed up with Oscar Hammerstein II to create hits such as Oklahoma, South Pacific and The Sound of Music.
Guettel is best known for his musical composition The Light in the Piazza, for which he won Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Orchestrations.
Guettel will preview new compositions as well as highlights from The Light in the Piazza and his musicals Myths and Hymns and Floyd Collins in his show at Chapel Off Chapel in Prahran on June 29 and 30.
Also on the gala bill will be Trevor Ashley, Gary Sweet and Rhonda Burchmore, who are staging the adults-only musical Little Orphan Trashley at the Comedy Theatre.
Platinum award-winning recording artist David Pomeranz has created more than 40 colourful characters from famous director-actor Charlie Chaplin’s life for the concert-musical, Chaplin: A Life – in Concert at Chapel Off Chapel on June 27 and 28.
Award-winning jazz vocalist Fem Belling brings to life the independent spirit and wistful romanticism of jazz star Blossom Dearie in Dear Blossom at Chapel Off Chapel on June 29 and 30.
The show is directed by Troy Sussman and features the music, tales and obsessions of the cult chanteuse and promises to be an emotional musical journey.
Belling teams up with songwriter-pianist Josh Levy for the show Another Day at the Globe Cafe (July 6 and 7). They will perform songs written by Levy.
Singer Miriam Waks draws on songs and stories from her year of travels in Asia, Europe, the US and South America for her cabaret show, Songs from the Open Road.
The show is a celebration of travel, multiculturalism, people and music.
For her shows at the Globe Cafe (July 6 and 7), she will be joined by Joe Ruberto on piano and accordian.
Tamara Kuldin’s show Jewettes celebrates the songs and stories of female Jewish singers from the 1920s to the present, ranging from Sophie Tucker and Madeline Kahn to Carole King.
For her shows at the Globe Cafe (June 29 and 30), Kuldin will be accompanied by Steve Paix (piano) and Anita Quayle on cello.
“Jewettes is a lovely accessible show for everyone, serenading the likes of Madeleine Kahn, Sophie Tucker, Fanny Brice and luscious ladies of jazz not known for their Jewish stories,” says Kuldin.
“I’ve included some anecdotal ditties honouring my 88-year-old babushka and her stories over vodka and tea.”
Kuldin has had a busy year with performances at The Famous Spiegeltent and the Melbourne International Jazz Festival.
The 2013 Melbourne Cabaret Festival is from June 26 to July 7 at venues across Melbourne. Bookings: www.melbournecabaret.com.
REPORT by Danny Gocs
PHOTO of Fem Belling